The repercussions of the Arab Spring and new polarization between Iran, Israel and the Gulf States means the Middle East faces multiple rivalries and conflicts. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Israel and the United States seem to have reached an agreement on certain issues in an attempt to redesign a fractured regional order. This vision is yet to be realized on the ground given the uncertainty around Washington’s global role. In assessing regional stakeholders and their potential capabilities as well as several scenes of regional conflict, the paper argues Turkey plays a traditional role in balancing tensions between Iran, the Gulf and Israel. While Turkey does not have a silver bullet, it provides ‘balancing’ support to the region, preserving neutral, middle ground.
The uprising against the decades-long Assad rule in Syria started as a series of peaceful demonstrations; however, the brutal crackdown of the Assad regime transformed the uprising into an armed rebellion. The opposition has been characterized by disunity, power struggles, and lack of direction, while half-hearted international backers with conflicting agendas have deepened the divides within the opposition, directly or indirectly empowering the Assad regime. Three main shortcomings have hindered the political opposition from creating a meaningful bloc which could independently advocate for the rights of the Syrian people and enjoy widespread legitimacy at home and abroad: representation deficit, dependency on outside actors, and the irrelevance of the political track.
Syria became the latest Middle Eastern country to join the chain of protests sweeping across the Middle East. The protests have since spread to several other cities with varying frequency and numbers, and the violent handling of the protests by the Syrian regime has created a protest movement, which has brought forth an array of demands from political reform to the fall of the regime. Opposition in different forms has always existed in Syria and among the Syrian diaspora. However, legal restrictions on social and political activities and the long-lasting atmosphere of fear, perpetrated by the Ba’ath Party and pervasive intelligence services, have so far limited the opposition’s organizational capabilities. Despite difficulties and restrictions, the Syrian opposition is in the making. This paper presents a brief analysis of the opposition in Syria, surveys the opposition’s fight for survival under the Ba’ath regime, and assesses its current strength and weaknesses.
Since the early 2000s, Turkish foreign policy has experienced a fundamental transformation. Turkey’s regional and global position, its relations with the countries in surrounding regions, and its long-lasting disputes with its neighbors were reshaped through the adoption of the “zero-problem-with-neighbors” policy. In line with this policy, Turkey has taken a pro-active stance and followed a multi-dimensional foreign policy approach to establish itself, first, as a conciliatory partner for peace with its neighbors, and second, as an agent of mediation between its clashing neighboring countries. 2009 was a year of foreign policy initiatives towards Syria, Armenia, and Iraq, including the Kurdish Regional Government. And it marked the beginning of more positive and constructive relations between Turkey and the United States. Turkey gained substantial ground in becoming a regional hub for energy by undersigning two critical energy deals. Yet, two major issues remain as challenges for Turkish foreign policy: a) the EU accession process, and b) the Cyprus dispute.